100 books like Why I Write

By George Orwell,

Here are 100 books that Why I Write fans have personally recommended if you like Why I Write. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Dissolution

Maurice Holloway Author Of Steal a Diamond

From my list on detective books with the most memorable protagonist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a passion for writing, and whenever I can, I try to help new writers improve their expertise so that one day they’ll complete their first book. My first book, born from a few-hundred-word short story at my writing group, turned into a three-book thriller series called FAVOURS. Since then, I’ve branched out by publishing a rom/com, a humorous ghost story as well as a standalone thriller. Agatha Christie published her first book as the result of a dare, which proves you can do it if you really want to.

Maurice's book list on detective books with the most memorable protagonist

Maurice Holloway Why did Maurice love this book?

CJ Sansom, a renowned historian, released this first fiction novel to huge acclaim. I was fascinated to find the investigator was a London lawyer during the reign of Henry VIII. It ticked all the boxes: history, a juicy murder, crime, and mystery. I was not disappointed. In my own writing, I endeavour to make my characters individual and memorable and, therefore, look for that in books I read.

The protagonist, lawyer Matthew Shardlake, has the brain, persistence, and vision of a Holmes or Poirot in uncovering the clues and is admired by all for his ability to win cases. Despite this, one thing continually erodes his confidence: he is a hunchback. Not restricted by twenty-first-century political correctness, his enemies take delight in reminding him of this. I loved the way the author handled that.

I enjoyed the detective story in an entirely different setting. It is a magnificent first book;…

By C.J. Sansom,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Dissolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Awarded the CWA Diamond Dagger - the highest honor in British crime writing

From the bestselling author of Winter in Madrid and Dominion comes the exciting and elegantly written first novel in the Matthew Shardlake Tudor Mystery series

Dissolution is an utterly riveting portrayal of Tudor England. The year is 1537, and the country is divided between those faithful to the Catholic Church and those loyal to the king and the newly established Church of England. When a royal commissioner is brutally murdered in a monastery on the south coast of England, Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's feared vicar general, summons…


Book cover of The Best of Saki

Suzette A. Hill Author Of Shadow Over Southwold

From my list on making one laugh or ponder.

Why am I passionate about this?

Privately and professionally, I've always been addicted to literature and history and stirred by the experiences that these studies reveal. Yet as a novelist (retired from college lecturing) I instinctively assume the comic or satirical mode. Whereas in analysing the poetry of perhaps T.S. Eliot, I'm totally serious, when creating a story I start to giggle. Psychiatrists might label this a defence mechanism – but I suspect it's the result of formative years spent reading social satirists such as Huxley, Greene, Wodehouse, and Waugh. While certainly no imitator, I feel that this type of literature has become insidiously bred in the bone – hence my listed choices being socially directed and often comic or acerbic. 

Suzette's book list on making one laugh or ponder

Suzette A. Hill Why did Suzette love this book?

A wonderful collection of outrageous, yet drily witty, short stories by the mordant satirist Saki (aka H.H. Munro tragically killed in WW1 – a great loss to literature). The milieux may be “cosy”, in that the setting is upper-class England of the early twentieth century, but the style is cuttingly astringent (darker than Wodehouse), yet the situations farcical. To be enjoyed with a generous libation to hand – though a malt whisky rather than a softer gin might be appropriate. A bonus to this edition is the excellent introduction by the late and great Graham Greene.

By Hector Hugh Munro,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Best of Saki as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The best of Saki is a collection of short stories by the famed 20th century writer Hector Hugh Munro. Saki is the pen name that Munro wrote his short stories under.
Saki was a misogynist, anti-semite, and reactionary, who also did not take himself too seriously. His stories, “true enough to be interesting and not true enough to be tiresome”, were considered ideal for reading. Saki was an Edwardian writer of sharply satirical, cynical short stories set in the milieu of well to do upper class Edwardian England. Born in1870, he started writing around the turn of century and died…


Book cover of Miss Mapp

Suzette A. Hill Author Of Shadow Over Southwold

From my list on making one laugh or ponder.

Why am I passionate about this?

Privately and professionally, I've always been addicted to literature and history and stirred by the experiences that these studies reveal. Yet as a novelist (retired from college lecturing) I instinctively assume the comic or satirical mode. Whereas in analysing the poetry of perhaps T.S. Eliot, I'm totally serious, when creating a story I start to giggle. Psychiatrists might label this a defence mechanism – but I suspect it's the result of formative years spent reading social satirists such as Huxley, Greene, Wodehouse, and Waugh. While certainly no imitator, I feel that this type of literature has become insidiously bred in the bone – hence my listed choices being socially directed and often comic or acerbic. 

Suzette's book list on making one laugh or ponder

Suzette A. Hill Why did Suzette love this book?

Part of Benson’s much-loved Lucia series. Gentler than Saki, this comedy of manners (also set in a bygone England) is deliciously entertaining, with its eccentric characters gleefully etched. Miss Mapp herself – prim and genteel but with lethal eyes – is a social snooper par excellence, and whose insidious wiles and steely shafts create havoc among the gossiping residents of sedate Tilling (firmly based on the ancient Sussex town of Rye, once home to Henry James.) As they negotiate the delicate snares of bridge, golf, and “charming” tea parties, cronies and quarries alike are pawns in her ruthless game of one-upmanship. It is a game she plays with relish and practised ease... that is until, elsewhere in the series, she is upstaged by the awesome Lucia. Hilarious.

By E.F. Benson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Miss Mapp as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The acclaimed author of Mapp and Lucia introduces the beloved Miss Elizabeth Mapp, a devious social climber, in this charming British comedy of manners.

In the English seaside village of Tilling, Miss Elizabeth Mapp keeps a thorough notebook about everyone’s business, including her servants. Whatever information she can’t collect through gossip, she discovers with the aid of opera glasses. Looking out from her window over High Street, she pays especially avid attention to her neighbor, Maj. Benjamin Flint, whom she has been planning for years to marry.
 
The second novel in E. F. Benson’s popular Mapp and Lucia series, which…


God on a Budget: and other stories in dialogue

By J.M. Unrue,

Book cover of God on a Budget: and other stories in dialogue

J.M. Unrue Author Of The Festival of Sin: and other tales of fantasy

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an old guy. I say this with a bit of cheek and a certain amount of incongruity. All the books on my list are old. That’s one area of continuity. Another, and I’ll probably stop at two, is that they all deal with ordinary people caught in extraordinary circumstances—those curveballs of life we flail at with an unfamiliar bat; the getting stuck on the Interstate behind a semi and some geezer in a golf cap hogging the passing lane in a Buick Le Sabre. No one makes it through this life unscathed. How we cope does more to define us than a thousand smiles when things are rosy. Thus endeth the lesson.

J.M.'s book list on showing that somebody has it worse than you do

What is my book about?

Nine Stories Told Completely in Dialogue is a unique collection of narratives, each unfolding entirely through conversations between its characters. The book opens with "God on a Budget," a tale of a man's surreal nighttime visitation that offers a blend of the mundane and the mystical. In "Doctor in the House," readers are plunged into the emotionally charged moment when an oncologist delivers a life-altering diagnosis to a patient. The collection then shifts to "Prisoner 8086," a story about the unlikely friendship that blossoms between a prison volunteer and a habitual offender, exploring themes of redemption and human connection.

The heart of the book continues with "The Reunion," a touching narrative about high school sweethearts reuniting, stirring up poignant memories and unspoken feelings. "The Therapy Session" adds a lighter touch, presenting a serio-comic exchange between a therapist and a challenging patient. In "The Fishing Trip," a father imparts crucial life lessons to his daughter during an eventful outing, leading to unexpected consequences. "Mortality" offers a deeply personal moment as a mother shares a cherished, secret story from her past with her son.

The collection then takes a romantic turn in "The Singles Cruise," where two individuals find connection amidst shared stories on a cruise for singles. Finally, "Jesus and Buddha in the Garden of Eden" provides a satirical, thought-provoking encounter in the afterlife between two spiritual figures. The book concludes with "The Breakup," a nuanced portrayal of a young couple's separation, told from both perspectives, encapsulating the complexities of relationships and the human experience.

God on a Budget: and other stories in dialogue

By J.M. Unrue,

What is this book about?

Nine Stories Told Completely in Dialogue is a unique collection of narratives, each unfolding entirely through conversations between its characters. The book opens with "God on a Budget," a tale of a man's surreal nighttime visitation that offers a blend of the mundane and the mystical. In "Doctor in the House," readers are plunged into the emotionally charged moment when an oncologist delivers a life-altering diagnosis to a patient. The collection then shifts to "Prisoner 8086," a story about the unlikely friendship that blossoms between a prison volunteer and a habitual offender, exploring themes of redemption and human connection.

The…


Book cover of Mortification: Writers’ Stories of Their Public Shame

Suzette A. Hill Author Of Shadow Over Southwold

From my list on making one laugh or ponder.

Why am I passionate about this?

Privately and professionally, I've always been addicted to literature and history and stirred by the experiences that these studies reveal. Yet as a novelist (retired from college lecturing) I instinctively assume the comic or satirical mode. Whereas in analysing the poetry of perhaps T.S. Eliot, I'm totally serious, when creating a story I start to giggle. Psychiatrists might label this a defence mechanism – but I suspect it's the result of formative years spent reading social satirists such as Huxley, Greene, Wodehouse, and Waugh. While certainly no imitator, I feel that this type of literature has become insidiously bred in the bone – hence my listed choices being socially directed and often comic or acerbic. 

Suzette's book list on making one laugh or ponder

Suzette A. Hill Why did Suzette love this book?

Probably four of my writers would not have suffered the mortification described here, but the scenarios certainly resonated with this pen-pusher!

Seventy contemporary authors – novelists, poets, biographers – describe in wincing detail the embarrassment they had sometimes felt in the course of promotional appearances: book signings, talks, interviews, etc. Their anecdotes are at once funny and cringingly painful. Distinguished names as diverse as Margaret Attwood, Val McDermid, Michael Holroyd, Edna O’Brian, Colm Tóibín, Willian Boyd, poets Thom Gunn and Simon Armitage, and a host of other literary heroes, bravely and vividly recount their worst moments under the public gaze. In some ways the humorous revelations are reassuring – evidently the eminent can be as vulnerable as the lesser known. But in reading this book, comradely laughter is tinged with a frisson of fear!

By Robin Robertson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mortification as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A collection of stories from some of the world’s greatest writers about their own public humiliation.

Humiliation is not, of course, unique to writers. However, the world of letters does seem to offer a near-perfect micro-climate for embarrassment and shame. There is something about the conjunction of high-mindedness and low income that is inherently comic; something about the very idea of deeply private thoughts – carefully worked and honed into art over the years – being presented to a public audience of dubious strangers that strays perilously close to tragedy.

Here, in over eighty contributions, are stories about the writer’s…


Book cover of Animal Farm

Ben H. Winters Author Of The Bonus Room

From my list on malevolent beasts.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve written across genres, including mysteries like The Last Policeman and big works of alternate history like Underground Airlines. But Bedbugs—now republished as The Bonus Room—was one of my first books, and very dear to my heart. I’ve always loved books that pit a single, relatively helpless protagonist against some inexplicable force that he or she cannot begin to fathom. A force that can’t be reasoned with or bargained with. You just have to beat it. Perhaps that’s why I love these books about man vs. beast—the natural world is our friend, and animal are subservient to us…until suddenly, terrifyingly, they’re not.   

Ben's book list on malevolent beasts

Ben H. Winters Why did Ben love this book?

When we think of scary animals we think of gnashing teeth and tearing claws, but obviously Orwell’s famous parable presents a very different kind of malevolence: that of overweaning ambition and our deep-seated instinct to control.

The pigs that present themselves as heroes and then slowly, greedily, inexorable turn into murderous dictators, forcing the other animals to do their bidding and then slaughtering them when they become too old, are of course not really pig-like at all—they are human-like, and therefore all the more terrifying. 

By George Orwell,

Why should I read it?

13 authors picked Animal Farm as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The perfect edition for any Orwell enthusiasts' collection, discover Orwell's classic dystopian masterpiece beautifully reimagined by renowned street artist Shepard Fairey

'All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others.'

Mr Jones of Manor Farm is so lazy and drunken that one day he forgets to feed his livestock. The ensuing rebellion under the leadership of the pigs Napoleon and Snowball leads to the animals taking over the farm. Vowing to eliminate the terrible inequities of the farmyard, the renamed Animal Farm is organised to benefit all who walk on four legs. But as time passes, the…


Book cover of We

Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi Author Of Legacy of the Third Way

From my list on books to take you to the future.

Why am I passionate about this?

From a young age, I've been captivated by evolution and its implications for the future. I immersed myself in classical works of philosophy and literature that explored human emotions and our relentless drive to succeed against all odds, advancing human knowledge and shaping society. This fascination with understanding the future led me to write op-ed pieces on foreign policy and geopolitics for prominent newspapers in South Asia. My desire to contribute to a better future inspired me to author three nonfiction books covering topics such as the Islamic Social Contract, Lessons from the Quran, and Reflections on God,  Science, and Human Nature. 

Abdul's book list on books to take you to the future

Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi Why did Abdul love this book?

I have always been fascinated by Russian authors because of their command of presenting human nature and its fears. I picked up this book because the author is from Russia.

Yevgeny wrote this novel at the height of the  Russian Revolution in the aftermath of the First World War. He projected a society in a distant future, fearing that complete control of the state would turn us into monotonous machines. Anyone daring to be different would be eliminated to ensure compliance and similarity.

My only reservation is that the book borders on science fiction rather than historical fiction.

By Yevgeny Zamyatin, Gregory Zilboorg (translator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked We as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A seminal work of dystopian fiction that foreshadowed the worst excesses of Soviet Russia, Yevgeny Zamyatin's We is a powerfully inventive vision that has influenced writers from George Orwell to Ayn Rand. This Penguin Classics edition is translated from the Russian with an introduction by Clarence Brown.

In a glass-enclosed city of absolute straight lines, ruled over by the all-powerful 'Benefactor', the citizens of the totalitarian society of OneState live out lives devoid of passion and creativity - until D-503, a mathematician who dreams in numbers, makes a discovery: he has an individual soul. Set in the twenty-sixth century AD,…


Book cover of The Memory Police

Akil Kumarasamy Author Of Meet Us by the Roaring Sea

From my list on weird sci-fi to reimagine the world around you.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ursula K. Le Guin said science fiction is a metaphor of the now. It allows us to defamiliarize ourselves with the issues around us, so we can see everything from a new lens. As someone who worked in tech spaces and once wrote a poetry-generating program, I am interested in how people use language to write about technology, at all levels. I appreciate the blend of older forms of technology like phonographs along with newer forms like ChatGPT. Languages interest me: how we translate to speak to machinery or people, and how translation itself can feel like a kind of wormhole into another world. 

Akil's book list on weird sci-fi to reimagine the world around you

Akil Kumarasamy Why did Akil love this book?

The novel really captures the nature of memory and what it means to love and care about others.

Frightening stuff happens in the book—things are disappearing—but it’s told with a warm and light tone, almost as if you’re sailing down a river. Ogawa captures quiet moments like friends eating a slice of cake with such luminosity.

Even when the world is falling apart, there is time for conversations with friends and meals together. 

By Yoko Ogawa, Stephen Snyder (translator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Memory Police as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the International Booker Prize 2020, an enthralling Orwellian novel about the terrors of state surveillance from one of Japan's greatest writers.

'Beautiful... Haunting' Sunday Times
'A dreamlike story of dystopia' Jia Tolentino
__________

Hat, ribbon, bird rose.

To the people on the island, a disappeared thing no longer has any meaning. It can be burned in the garden, thrown in the river or handed over to the Memory Police. Soon enough, the island forgets it ever existed.

When a young novelist discovers that her editor is in danger of being taken away by the Memory Police, she desperately…


Book cover of 1984

Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi Author Of Legacy of the Third Way

From my list on books to take you to the future.

Why am I passionate about this?

From a young age, I've been captivated by evolution and its implications for the future. I immersed myself in classical works of philosophy and literature that explored human emotions and our relentless drive to succeed against all odds, advancing human knowledge and shaping society. This fascination with understanding the future led me to write op-ed pieces on foreign policy and geopolitics for prominent newspapers in South Asia. My desire to contribute to a better future inspired me to author three nonfiction books covering topics such as the Islamic Social Contract, Lessons from the Quran, and Reflections on God,  Science, and Human Nature. 

Abdul's book list on books to take you to the future

Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi Why did Abdul love this book?

Humans are always curious about what the future will look like. They are also concerned about the state impinging on their privacy and interfering with their lives. George Orwell masterfully combined these two human impulses in his classic novel. He wrote the book in 1949 to present his view of the future.

I read this book when I was in my mid-20s. I found it an interesting read, especially since many of his predictions did not come true. I was curious to know how past generations viewed our generation. 

By George Orwell,

Why should I read it?

42 authors picked 1984 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU . . .

1984 is the year in which it happens. The world is divided into three superstates. In Oceania, the Party's power is absolute. Every action, word, gesture and thought is monitored under the watchful eye of Big Brother and the Thought Police. In the Ministry of Truth, the Party's department for propaganda, Winston Smith's job is to edit the past. Over time, the impulse to escape the machine and live independently takes hold of him and he embarks on a secret and forbidden love affair. As he writes the words 'DOWN WITH BIG…


Book cover of Feed

Mal Warwick Author Of Hell on Earth: What we can learn from dystopian fiction

From my list on dystopian since “Brave New World” and “1984”.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was twelve years old, my picture appeared in my hometown newspaper. I was holding a huge stack of books from the library, a week’s reading. All science fiction. I’ve read voraciously for the past seventy years—though much more widely as an adult. I’ve also had a life founding several small companies and writing twenty books. But I’ve continued to read science fiction, and, increasingly, dystopian novels. Why? Because, as a history buff, I think about the big trends that shape our lives. I see clearly that climate change, breakthroughs in technology, and unstable politics threaten our children’s future. I want to understand how these trends might play out—for better or for worse.

Mal's book list on dystopian since “Brave New World” and “1984”

Mal Warwick Why did Mal love this book?

I’m troubled by the way young people today seem to live their lives glued to smartphone and computer screens.

M. T. Anderson gives us a hint of what this might lead to in Feed. It’s one of the scariest books I've read in many years. The six teenagers partying in this novel live in a world of constant distractions. Fashions may change by the hour.

A powerful future version of Virtual Reality allows them to experience novelty and excitement at any time without special equipment—and without pausing for reflection.

And that’s how they live, closed off from life in the real world. As I said, scary.

By M.T. Anderson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Feed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

Identity crises, consumerism, and star-crossed teenage love in a futuristic society where people connect to the Internet via feeds implanted in their brains. Winner of the LA Times Book Prize.

For Titus and his friends, it started out like any ordinary trip to the moon - a chance to party during spring break and play around with some stupid low-grav at the Ricochet Lounge. But that was before the crazy hacker caused all their feeds to malfunction, sending them to the hospital to lie around with nothing inside their heads for days. And it was before Titus met Violet, a…


Book cover of Bloomsbury Girls: A Novel

Erica Bauermeister Author Of No Two Persons

From my list on (re)immersing you in the magic of books.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been book-besotted my entire life. I've read, studied, taught, reviewed, and written books. I went to “gradual” school, as John Irving calls it, earning a PhD in literature before gradually realizing that what I really loved was writing. For me, books contain the intellectual challenge of puzzles, the fun of entertainment, the ability to fill souls. They have changed my life, and the best compliments I have received are from readers who say my books have changed theirs. I read widely and indiscriminately (as this list shows) because I believe that good books are found in all genres. But a book about books? What a glorious meta-adventure. 

Erica's book list on (re)immersing you in the magic of books

Erica Bauermeister Why did Erica love this book?

Natalie Jenner sets her story of post-World War II feminism in a bookstore in England.

Three women, each of whom has proved their worth during the war years, must now face the fact that men are taking the reins once again. And yet, as Jenner makes clear, it is the women who have the intelligence, the ideas, and the skills to make this stagnant bookshop a vibrant and thriving place.

Jenner has done her research, and I love the way the setting and characters come alive, as do some real-life literary characters (always wonderful when that works). It's never a question that things will change at the shop—but how that happens makes for a delightful and satisfying read.

By Natalie Jenner,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Bloomsbury Girls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Delightful." --People, Pick of the Week

*Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2022 by Katie Couric Media, the CBC, the Globe and Mail, BookBub, POPSUGAR, SheReads, Women.com and more!*

Natalie Jenner, the internationally bestselling author of The Jane Austen Society, returns with a compelling and heartwarming story of post-war London, a century-old bookstore, and three women determined to find their way in a fast-changing world in Bloomsbury Girls.

Bloomsbury Books is an old-fashioned new and rare book store that has persisted and resisted change for a hundred years, run by men and guided by the general manager's unbreakable fifty-one rules.…


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